NFL Draft 2011: Arkansas’ QB Ryan Mallett’s Pro Prospects

Posted by Alex Curtland on March-8-2011 Add Comments

Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett is the best pure pocket passer in this year’s draft—and if he can fix his problems of mobility in the pocket, he will enjoy a long, successful NFL career. 

Mallett has all the intangibles you look for in an NFL QB—height, big arm, good accuracy, and intelligence.  He even mastered a pro-style offense in college. 

He also has all the impressive stats—he was Gatorade High School Player of the Year in 2006, and he amassed a 69/24 touchdown to interception ratio in college.

But Mallett still has one thing left to learn in order to make it in the NFL: pocket presence. 

Mallett does not need to turn into a scrambler, but he needs to recognize when the pass rush is getting close and get rid of the ball. 

He has a reputation for holding on to the ball, and he took his fair share of big hits from defensive lineman. 

He got away with this in college, but in the NFL, defensive players know how to get those strip sacks, and there’s nothing more important to a young QB than protecting the football. 

Additionally, Mallett faces a much higher risk of injury than other QB’s because of all the hits he takes. 

Arkansas’ Pro Day is later today, and Mallett is expected to participate.  He will run the 40, do the bench press, vertical and broad jump drills, the 60-yard shuttle, as well as position specific drills. 

A good Pro Day won’t hurt, but pocket presence is not a skill that can just be picked up. 

The only way for Mallett to improve this area of his game is through practice and playing time.

The good news for Mallett is that once he learns this skill, it will stay with him—just like learning how to ride a bike.

In a draft class full of athletic, but raw and unpolished QB’s, Mallett has a huge advantage being the best pure pocket passer.

It’s a double-edged sword, however.  Unfortunately for him, while scouts drool at the impressive 40 times of Cam Newton or Jake Locker, Mallett will likely take a back seat.

Most teams likely already know where they have Mallett on their big board.  Depending on how much faith they have in him improving his mobility, he could go anywhere from the high second to the late third round.

Regardless of where he gets drafted, here’s one writer who thinks he will make it in the NFL.  He is a smart, good kid who has shown he will put in all the work necessary to improve this area of his game.

Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino might have said it best at SEC Media Day when he said “He (Mallett) could run for President and win.”

Where can I cast my vote?   

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